February 2018

Around five or so years ago, particularly in our playground of Orlando Florida, everyone was shouting to the rooftops that Millennials were traveling differently…that they wanted itineraries that were less tour heavy…that they wanted to be more active on their trips, and to do things like bike through the city or towns they were visiting like Altamonte Springs. It was a glimmer of how travel was about to change.

More astounding was the hoopla that emerged around the world – the desire to cash in on the huge Gen Y demographic had virtually every consumer brand drooling over potential profits. Marketing plans and business plans began to change, with the cry that existing strategies weren’t “millennial enough.” Everyone was researching Gen Y to the nth degree, looking at how they bought things, how they lived, when they read, how they don’t email, how they Snapchat, and everything in between.

Research found that millennials liked podcasts because they want to hear things, not read them, that they want to live for the moment and not wait until they retire to go to an iconic five-star hotel in Europe, or even Orlando. They like to collaborate and share and they know people across the globe through their social networks. Many of them grew up traveling and so that’s a de facto birthright, and everything must be picture-perfect so it looks great on Instagram.

Do you remember this initial burst of craziness?

We couldn’t shoehorn the Millennials enough and with all that data, new products were created. We ended up with more interesting hotel brands with spacious lobbies, open seating, and sometimes free wine, sometimes free local music. Rooftop bars and hot “see and be seen” swimming pools became de rigueur for new-build hotels.


Travel suppliers and travel advisors began to facilitate bike tours, cooking classes, walking tours and Segway tours – even group running tours are not hard to come by. Better yet, advisors and suppliers began learning new ways of serving up old, or perhaps better put, “favorite,” destinations in new ways so that travelers were not able to see the inner workings of a destination, not just the top landmarks.

But do you want to know what is most amazing about all of the changes that have taken place due to Millennials? WE ALL BECAME MILLENNIALS!!! We heard all the talk about sharing local experiences with great guides, drinking craft beer and excellent local wines and we said HEY, WE LIKE THAT, TOO!

We, like Millennials, started to enjoy the new lifestyle hotels that sprang up. They don’t even necessarily have to be five-star; but if hotels are new and clean with a pleasing design and bring in the local community, most of us think that’s pretty cool, even if we’re Gen Xers or Baby Boomers. One caveat is, however, that there must be excellent customer service; no one is willing to sacrifice that no matter how great a hotels vibe is.

It is going to be fun to see how the industry continues to evolve in 2018. One thing we’ll know for sure, however, is that it’s the consumer who is driving the changes as they become more in tune with what they want to get out of their vacations and how they want to feel when they return home.

What do you think?

Joe Bouch

78Madison is a full service marketing communications firm – advertising agency – located in Orlando Florida…OK, a suburb of Orlando – Altamonte Springs Florida.